The Fools Collaborative have gifted Fresno audiences with a sincerely poignant play in Duncan MacMillan and Jonny Donahoe’s Every Brilliant Thing. Presented at an intimately-set-up ViSTA Theater in the Tower District, audiences are treated to a vulnerable and emotionally-driven journey of the central character’s life which deals with list-making, record-listening, and depression caused by factors I won’t spoil here. I had the pleasure of seeing Camille Gaston perform (the role is split with Nick Haas on alternating dates) whose inspiring delivery of the text, interactions with the audience, and passionate elocution make this solo show a dynamite piece of theatre.
Director Miguel Gastelum, assistant director Haley White, and Gaston efficiently accomplish the difficult task of any solo show: secure the audience for an emotional journey where we can trust that we’ll be okay by play’s end. Gaston begins with a bit about her character’s first loss, giving thought to what happens when a live being becomes an object to be passed on. It’s a powerful way to start the play, and cues the audience to what world we have entered: a world of heartbreak and lists, finding brilliance in the mundane and profound; it’s a world where depression, suicide, marriage, and literary love can all live in disjointed harmony as the character grows up. Gaston serves as a trustworthy narrator/central character, adept at bringing the audience along for the journey, and knows how turn a phrase for a laugh, gasp, or contemplative silence.
Should you choose to see this play—and believe me, you’ll be a better human if you do—you will enjoy much audience interaction, but to the level of your comfort. Ryan Gilmore’s props are used naturally, such as books on the sides of the seats or the diversely colored written-list items audience members get to read. Regina Harris pumps up the volume with a balanced sound design and with the various tunes the character brings into the play, whether it’s feeling love for the first time or listening to dad’s record collection while near his office.
In all, what The Fools have given to Fresno audiences is a platform for a compelling and sincere theatrical experience. This is the type of theatre which fulfills, impacts, ignites reflection, and is one you can’t wait to talk about afterwards.
Remaining Performances: Nick Haas will perform November 17th and November 19th (2pm); Camille Gaston will perform November 18th and November 19th (7:30pm).
Photo Source: The Fools Collaborative